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The Future of Online Learning

Before March 2020, less than 10 law schools offered online hybrid J.D. programs approved by the ABA. Nearly one year later, in spring 2020, nearly every law school did due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as law schools look ahead post-pandemic, 100% online learning may not be here to stay. Law.com recently looked at how a fully online J.D. program requires a substantial amount of resources and why experts say that’s not something all law schools may be interested in investing in.

“I think most schools will stick with what they have done all along because it’s a pretty expensive and demanding transition to offer an online program,” Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Dean Daniel Filler tells Law.com. “It might over time be cheaper, but it’s certainly not cheaper on the front end.”

LAW STUDENTS VIEW ONLINE LEARNING POORLY

A recent study done in collaboration by Gallup and the AccessLex Institute found that less than half of all students agreed strongly (13%) or somewhat (29%) that their online J.D. experience during the pandemic met their learning needs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic provided higher education an unexpected natural experiment that we can learn from as we continue to examine new ways to integrate online learning into historically in-person programs,” Stephanie Marken, Executive Director for Education Research at Gallup, says in a press release. “Although many law students were frustrated by their online experiences, the research identifies successes that can inform a post-pandemic evolution for law schools nationally.”

A HYBRID FUTURE

While a fully online J.D. program may be out of the question, a number of law schools are considering hybrid learning models that combine elements of online learning with in-person.

“I think we all recognize there’s an opportunity there that wasn’t there before,” Florida A&M University College of Law Dean Deidré Keller tells Law.com. However, “one of the things we really want to see in an initial move to distance education is a more focused strategy around building and maintaining community in an online [course].”

The path forward, however, depends mainly on ensuring that students’ well-being is a priority.

“Law schools and the ABA are very focused on well-being and wellness of our students and of legal professionals,” Seton Hall Law School Dean Kathleen Boozang tells Law.com. “And I think many students didn’t find the remote experience to be the best experience from a wellness perspective. It was very lonely and isolating.”

Sources: Law.com, Law.com

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